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What Causes a Feeling of Pressure Behind the Eye?

A feeling of pressure behind your eyes doesn’t always stem from a problem inside your eyes. It usually starts in another part of your head. Though eye conditions can cause eye pain and vision problems, they rarely cause pressure. Even glaucoma, which is caused by a buildup of pressure inside the eye, doesn’t cause a feeling of pressure.


A few conditions can cause pressure behind the eye, including:

  • sinus problems

  • headaches

  • Graves’ disease

  • damage to the optic nerve

  • tooth pain


Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, happens when bacteria or viruses get into the space behind your nose, eyes, and cheeks. These germs cause your sinuses to swell up and your nose to fill with mucus. With a sinus infection, you’ll feel pressure in the upper part of your face, including behind your eyes.


Two types of headaches, tension and cluster headaches, can cause a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, affecting nearly 80 percent of people. Cluster headaches are an extremely painful type of headache that comes and goes. You might get cluster headaches for a few days or weeks, and then not have any headaches for many months or years.

Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. This makes the gland release too much of its hormone. Graves’ disease affects the eye muscles, causing the eyes to bulge. Many people with this disease also have a feeling of pressure behind their eyes, which gets worse when they move their eyes.

Optic neuritis

Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) or lupus can cause swelling, or inflammation, behind the eye. This swelling can damage the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from your eyes to your brain. Optic neuritis can cause pain that might feel like pressure or an ache behind your eye.

Tooth pain

It might seem unlikely that your teeth could affect your eyes, but a problem with your bite or jaw alignment can make you tense the muscles of your face. This muscle tension can cause a headache, which may include a feeling of pain and pressure behind your eyes.

Call your doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these more serious symptoms:

  • high fever

  • vision loss

  • severe headache

  • loss of feeling or movement in any part of your body

​This post originally appeared on Health Line.

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